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What To Give When Alcohol Is Not An Option

What To Give When Alcohol Is Not An Option

14 August 2012

Debbie Zauder, JCCV Youth Alcohol Project (YAP) Manager is regularly asked ‘What could I give as a present, isn’t alcohol a good and safe choice?’

Debbie is happy to receive feedback on your alternate options for an “ideal present” by Wednesday 12th September.

The best option will be announced at the "Älcohol & Youth - Your Say!" forum on Thursday 13th September 2012 at Glen Eira Town Hall, and will be published in the AJN. The winner will win a special gift from the YAP. Please contact Debbie at

The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) article below offers a number of options for your consideration.

Many times when a gift is required, “a nice bottle of wine” is a common and accepted offering. However, often, especially for those working in the alcohol and drug sector, alcohol is not the ideal gift.

This email alert examines the giving of alcohol, and offers some alternative gift ideas.

Gift-giving contexts and alcohol

There are many situations in which giving a gift or showing a token of appreciation is required—birthdays and anniversaries, public and private celebrations, ceremonies and events.

Bottles of alcohol are often used as gifts that either recognise a person’s appreciation of drinking or else offer a “safe” present that doesn’t require too much investigation into that person’s interests and activities. Alcoholic products are also diverse in price to suit most people’s budgets.

Alcohol: the “safe” gift?

According to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 80.5% of Australians over 14 years consumed alcohol at least once over the previous 12 months. The survey also shows that:

  • 20.1% drink at levels that put them at risk of harm over their lifetime
  • 28.4% drink at levels that put them at risk of harm from a single drinking occasion at least once a month
  • events like school functions, where children may be present

Given the potential for harms, alcohol is not necessarily an appropriate gift and can be particularly inappropriate in certain contexts, such as:

  • individuals who for health reasons are not able to consume alcohol
  • individuals who have a substance dependence problem.

The alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector has a responsibility to model responsible attitudes to alcohol, and part of this can be in the selection of gifts.

Alternative gift ideas

When alcohol is not the appropriate gift for a particular person or context, there are many alternatives that can be similarly appealing and affordable. The examples below could be used for birthdays, dinner parties or public events:

  • chocolates or other sweet treats
  • gourmet hampers
  • “pampering” items such as candles or lotions
  • music or books—or gift vouchers for these
  • flowers
  • vouchers for activities such as films or festivals.

So don’t contribute to Australia’s alcohol consumption statistics. Next time you find yourself heading to the bottle shop for a “safe” gift, think again, and celebrate or show your appreciation with one of these alternative gifts instead.


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